Smith v. Kemp, 83-8611

Decision Date09 September 1983
Docket NumberNo. 83-8611,83-8611
Citation715 F.2d 1459
PartiesJohn Eldon SMITH, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Ralph M. KEMP, Superintendent, Georgia Diagnostic & Classification Center, Respondent-Appellee.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Eleventh Circuit

John Charles Boger, New York City, Timothy K. Ford, Seattle, Wash., for petitioner-appellant.

Susan V. Boleyn, Asst. Atty. Gen., Atlanta, Ga., for respondent-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia.

Before RONEY, HILL and HATCHETT, Circuit Judges.

RONEY and JAMES C. HILL, Circuit Judges:

Joseph Ronald Akins and his wife of twenty days, Juanita Knight Akins, were killed in a secluded area of a new housing development in Bibb County, Georgia, on August 31, 1974, by shotgun blasts fired at close range. Petitioner, John Eldon Smith, also known as Tony Machetti, charged with firing the shotgun, was convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

Briefly, the evidence was that petitioner and his wife, Rebecca Akins Smith Machetti, together with John Maree, plotted to kill Akins, a former husband of Rebecca's and the father of her three children, in order to collect his life insurance proceeds. John Maree testified that he and petitioner lured Akins to the area of the crime on the pretense of installing a television antenna. When Akins appeared with his wife, petitioner shot them both.

Before this Court is the appeal from a denial of a second federal habeas corpus petition that asserted three grounds for relief: first, John Maree had a pretrial agreement or understanding not revealed to the jury so that the trial was unconstitutional under Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150, 92 S.Ct. 763, 31 L.Ed.2d 104 (1972); second, the Georgia death statute is applied in an unconstitutional, arbitrary, and discriminatory way; and third, the underrepresentation of women made the jury that convicted him unconstitutional under Taylor v. Louisiana, 419 U.S. 522, 95 S.Ct. 692, 42 L.Ed.2d 690 (1975).

We affirm the denial of habeas corpus relief holding first, the Giglio claim, although not asserted in the prior federal habeas corpus proceeding, was resolved by a state court's findings of fact that there was no understanding or agreement that should have been revealed to the jury; second, that defendant had a full opportunity to litigate and did litigate in his prior habeas corpus proceeding the issue concerning the arbitrary and discriminatory application of Georgia's death penalty to petitioner, so that the attempt to relitigate here is a clear abuse of the writ; and third, the defendant waived his right to object to the jury by failing to assert the issue at trial, on appeal, or on his first habeas corpus proceeding.

Petitioner's execution was scheduled for August 25, 1983. A notice of appeal was filed in this Court on Monday, August 22, from a denial of the relief by the district court entered on Friday, August 19. A motion for stay of execution was simultaneously filed, along with a motion for certificate of probable cause, denied by the district court.

Following the procedures indicated by Barefoot v. Estelle, --- U.S. ----, 103 S.Ct. 3383, 77 L.Ed.2d 1090 (1983), this Court gave proper notice that the Court would consider the merits as well as the pending motion and heard two and one-half hours of oral argument on Tuesday, August 23. The parties cooperated by filing excellent briefs and thoroughly arguing all issues raised in this appeal. The Court entered a stay, in order to more thoroughly examine the issues presented, and called for additional briefs to be filed by August 29. Supreme Court Justice Powell refused to vacate the stay. Our decision here reflects the full consideration of the merits of the case based on the record from the trial and both habeas corpus proceedings, voluminous briefing at the trial and appellate stage, extensive oral argument, and the Court's independent research on the legal issues involved.

To understand our decision, insofar as it relates to the abuse of the writ and the waiver issues, it is helpful to review a chronology of the prior proceedings in this case:

                Jan.   30, 1975  Petitioner convicted
                Feb.       1975  Rebecca Smith Machetti convicted
                Jan.    6, 1976  Conviction & sentences aff'd - Smith
                                 v. State, 236 Ga. 12, 222 S.E.2d 308
                                 (1976).  1
                July    6, 1976  Cert. denied, Smith v. Georgia, 428
                                 U.S. 910, 96 S.Ct. 3224, 49 L.Ed.2d
                                 1219 (1976).
                Oct.    4, 1976  Petition for rehearing denied, Smith
                                 v. Georgia, 429 U.S. 874, 96 S.Ct.
                                 3224, 49 L.Ed.2d 1219 (1976).
                Oct.   22, 1976  Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
                                 Georgia Superior Court.
                Mar.   16, 1977  Petition dismissed (unpublished order).
                Oct.   18, 1977  Order dismissing petition affirmed,
                                 Smith v. Hopper, 240 Ga. 93, 239 S.E.
                                 2d 510 (1977).  2
                June    5, 1978  Cert. denied, Smith v. Hopper, 436
                                 U.S. 950, 98 S.Ct. 2859, 56 L.Ed.2d
                                 793 (1978).
                Oct.    2, 1978  Petition for rehearing denied, Smith
                                 v. Hopper, 439 U.S. 884, 99 S.Ct.
                                 229, 58 L.Ed.2d 199 (1978).
                Feb.   21, 1979  Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
                                 filed in U.S. District Court, M.D. Ga.
                Sept.   9, 1980  U.S. Magistrate recommended denial
                                 of all relief.
                Nov.   26, 1980  District court denied relief (unreported
                                 order and judgment).
                Nov.    2, 1981  This Court affirmed, Smith v. Balkcom,
                                 660 F.2d 573 (5th Cir.  Unit B
                                 1981).  3
                Mar.   29, 1982  Opinion modified on rehearing, 671
                                 F.2d 858 (5th Cir.  Unit B 1982).
                Oct.    5, 1982  Cert. denied, Smith v. Balkcom, ---
                                 U.S. ----, 103 S.Ct. 181, 74 L.Ed.2d
                                 148 (1982).
                June   25, 1982  Second Petition for Writ of Habeas
                                 Corpus filed in Georgia Superior
                                 Court.
                                 Georgia Superior Court dismissed
                                 immediately without consideration of
                                 the merits.
                Sept.  16, 1982  Georgia Supreme Court remanded
                                 appeal "for an evidentiary hearing
                                 on the issues raised in the Petition."
                Nov.   15, 1982  Superior Court on remand (after brief
                                 hearing on waiver issues) denied
                                 evidentiary hearing on merits and
                                 dismissed.
                Mar.    1, 1983  Georgia Supreme Court reversed and
                                 remanded case again for evidentiary
                                 hearing on prosecutorial claim of
                                 misconduct.  Smith v. Zant, 250 Ga. 645,
                                 301 S.E.2d 32 (1983).
                May    10, 1983  Evidentiary hearings before Superior
                June   10, 1983  Court.
                Aug.    5, 1983  Superior Court's order denying relief.
                Aug.   16, 1983  Georgia Supreme Court denied application
                                 for CPC.
                Aug.   17, 1983  Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
                                 filed in U.S. District Court, M.D. Ga.
                Aug.   17, 1983  Oral Argument before District Court.
                Aug.   18, 1983  Petitioner's motion for an evidentiary
                                 hearing.
                Aug.   19, 1983  Order denying motion.
                                 Order dismissing petition, denying
                                 CPC, denying IFP and denying stay
                                 of execution pending appeal.
                Aug.   19, 1983  Notice of Appeal (11th Cir.).
                Aug.   22, 1983  Application for CPC, IFP and certificate
                                 of good faith and application
                                 for stay of execution.
                Aug.   23, 1983  Oral Argument and Order granting
                                 CPC, IFP, and stay of execution.
                Aug.   24, 1983  Motion to Vacate Stay filed with
                                 Justice Powell.
                Aug.   24, 1983  Justice Powell's Order declining to
                                 vacate stay.
                Aug.   25, 1983  This Court's letter to counsel to file
                                 other material by August 29.
                

In these appeals and petitions, a total of 28 jurists on seven separate state and federal courts, some on several occasions (the Supreme Court of the United States has been petitioned four times, the Georgia Supreme Court five), have considered Smith's claims. He has sought procedural devices (stays of execution and full hearings) to insure that his claims be fully developed and considered as well as relief on their merits. He has been provided most of the procedural protections sought. No court has found merit in any of his claims.

I. Alleged Giglio Violation.

The petitioner did not raise the claimed Giglio violation until his second state habeas corpus petition. At the insistence of the Supreme Court of Georgia on its second remand of that petition to the state habeas corpus judge, a hearing was held on petitioner's claim that the prosecution failed to correct the false testimony of John Maree, an accomplice and eyewitness who testified against Smith at the latter's trial, that Maree had no plea agreement with the state. Smith v. Zant, 250 Ga. 645, 301 S.E.2d 32 (1983). Prosecutorial suppression of an agreement with or promise to a material witness in exchange for that witness' testimony violates a criminal defendant's due process rights. Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150, 92 S.Ct. 763, 31 L.Ed.2d 104 (1972); Napue v. Illinois, 360 U.S. 264, 79 S.Ct. 1173, 3 L.Ed.2d 1217 (1959). The state must affirmatively correct testimony of a witness who fraudulently testifies that he has not received a promise of leniency in exchange for his testimony.

Maree testified on cross examination that he had never received any promises in exchange for his testimony other than "protection for my family and myself." Smith alleges that Maree had received a promise of a life sentence in exchange for testimony against petitioner and that the prosecutor concealed this promise from the jury.

On remand, the...

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